Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Linda Aiken Sheds Some Light on the Nursing Shortage

Last month the Health Affairs Blog featured Linda Aiken . Dr. Aiken has been a major contributor to health workforce and outcomes research for the past two decades. She discusses the 7 Myths currently surrounding the nursing shortage as it exists today and as projected in the future.

"Currently, the United States is short an estimated 150,000 nurses. Yet over the next decade, more than 650,000 new jobs in nursing will be created. At the same time, an estimated 450,000 nurses will have retired. By 2020, the nurse shortage is expected to increase to 800,000. I set out to debunk a number of popular myths surrounding the current nurse shortage at a recent meeting convened in Washington, D.C. on the future of nursing. The September 20-21 meeting was sponsored by Health Affairs, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the John A. Hartford Foundation ."

I agree with Dr. Aiken's assessment that we do not know how to solve the nursing shortage is a myth. We need more support of the education of nurses and the creation of more efficient ways to obtain a BSN. Higher pay incentives for faculty need to be available and nurses should be reimbursed for their services not as viewed as an hospital expense.

I would like add that stronger media representation of nurses should be advocated for similar to the initiatives of The Center for Nursing Advocacy. Many young people today who do not have personal contact with a nurse (social or through the health care system) will get their perception of nursing primarily through the media. Negative and inaccurate images of nurses in the media will deter intelligent men and women from entering the profession and will undervalue our life-saving skills and education.

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